Fri. Oct 18th, 2019

Lindiwe Sisulu faces uncertain future for downgrading Israeli embassy

Lindiwe Sisul dircoSisulu looks ahead to an uncertain future in her coveted position.

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By the time the Cabinet is announced, Lindiwe Sisulu may not be part of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s newly-appointed league of ministers.

As reported by the Daily Maverick, the Minister of International Relations faces an uncertain future as she deals with the backlash she has received from announcing her intentions of downgrading the Israeli embassy to a visa centre.

Why did Lindiwe Sisulu push for the embassy downgrade?

Sisulu’s decision was carried by her accountability to her role as South Africa’s head of international relations and a loyal cadre of the African National Congress (ANC).

Related: Cyril Ramaphosa says downgrading embassy in Israel is not so easy

Once the dust had settled around the leadership contest at the party’s Nasrec conference in 2017, two crucial resolutions were formed: the expropriation of land without compensation and the status of Israeli in South Africa.

After much consideration, it was decided that the Israeli government’s perceived ignorance of international laws and those of the United Nations (UN), regarding settlement building, was in contradiction to the honour and dignity South Africa stood for.

Up until the notice of the downgrade, Sisulu and Ramaphosa had been communicating mixed messages regarding the topic. The former’s position was clear, the embassy had to be downgraded, while the latter believed that more deliberation was needed.

“Once the Cabinet has fully engaged and come out with a view on this matter, it will be communicated to the public. In other words, we remain seized with the modalities of downgrading the South African embassy in Israel, and this matter has not been finalised,” the president had said in a recent interview with the popular Jewish Report newspaper.

Related: “Valid criticism of Israel is not antisemitic” – Ex-ANC minister Ronnie Kasrils

Jewish community lambasts ‘threatening’ Sisulu

The South African Jewish Board of Deputies (SAJBD), in an article published by the local newspaper, described Sisulu as a “threat in government” that seemingly has an agenda against Israel.

“The downgrade of the South African embassy in Israel has not been implemented. She is obsessed with criticising the Jewish state.

“Her announcements marked a very unpleasant period before the elections for South African Jewry. The minister made outrageous, inflammatory, and incorrect statements. She said the embassy downgrade had been implemented, but this has not been adopted as government policy..” SAJBD’s national vice-president, Zev Krengel said.

The speculation around Sisulu’s future has been exasperated by a Cabinet list that has been doing the rounds on social media recently.

Related: When you can expect Ramaphosa to announce his new cabinet

Although it has been debunked as fake, it is still interesting to note that the coveted position Sisulu holds has been passed on to the former Speaker of Parliament, Baleka Mbete.

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